Castroneves Leads Penske Front-Row Sweep at Nazareth NAZARETH, Pa., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2004 -- Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves claimed his second MBNA Pole Award of the season, winning the pole position for the Firestone Indy...
Castroneves Leads Penske Front-Row Sweep at Nazareth
NAZARETH, Pa., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2004 -- Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves claimed his second MBNA Pole Award of the season, winning the pole position for the Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth Speedway.
Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone and defending race winner, turned a fast lap of 20.1080 seconds, 167.396 mph, on the 1-mile oval.
Castroneves' lap was slightly quicker than his teammate, two-time IRL IndyCar® Series champion Sam Hornish Jr., whose best lap was 20.1436 seconds, 167.100 mph in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.
Points leader Tony Kanaan will start third in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone after turning a fast lap of 20.2052 seconds, 166.591 mph. Buddy Rice, his closest rival for the IndyCar Series title will start 10th.
The Firestone Indy 225 is scheduled for 2:25 p.m. (EDT), on Aug. 29. It will be broadcast live on ABC and on the IMS Radio Network.
FIRESTONE INDY 225 POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:
* This is the sixth pole position of Helio Castroneves IndyCar Series career. His last pole position came at Richmond in June.
* This is Marlboro Team Penske's second MBNA Pole Award of the season and the 11th pole position in the IndyCar Series.
* This is Sam Hornish Jr.'s first front-row start of the season. His previous best start was third at Kentucky.
* This is the 18th time teammates have started 1-2 in the IndyCar Series. This is the first time Marlboro Team Penske have started 1-2 since Richmond in 2002 with Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran and the fourth time overall. It is the third time this season teammates have shared the front row.
* Darren Manning qualified fifth, his best career qualifying effort in the IndyCar Series. His previous-best qualifying effort was sixth at Phoenix and Nashville.
FIRESTONE INDY 225 POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The pole is great. I'm extremely happy for the whole team, especially being on the front row right in the backyard of Team Penske. It's awesome. I'm speechless right now. The guys did an awesome job and they deserve it. We've been working really hard, and when I say "we," it's not only our guys but Toyota as well. It's just great to start like this, this weekend. Hopefully this will be the first of many (Penske front row starts with Sam Hornish). I'm extremely happy for the entire staff. We have to keep working. Not only the team, but Toyota also. Everybody is working so hard to accomplish what we want. So far it seems we have a good car. But the races always change, especially this place here. It's very difficult to pass, and we're going to have a lot of traffic. Hopefully we can put both the Marlboro Team Penske cars in front at the end."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We're real happy with the way the car ran. Obviously, we'd like to beat Helio, but that's what teammates are for. It's great for the guys. They've been working so hard this year. We've come to a track that's so close to Reading, and they'll have a lot of their family out here tomorrow. I'd like to have a good run for them tomorrow. I think this track is going to suit us pretty well. We probably left a little bit out there on the track, but we'll try and do a little better tomorrow. The car was handling real well, and it did just about everything it needed to do. We left a little bit out there. We were geared a little bit short. We didn't expect to go that fast. The speeds were up from what they were this morning. When Helio put that time up, I thought it was a pretty good time. I knew I had to go out and beat Tony. The Marlboro Team Penske guys have worked very hard. They probably put in more time than Helio and I combined. We always want to do good, but this is an extra special race, being the last race here at Nazareth. It's got a lot of history with Indy-style bracing. Plus, it's the 100th race in the IRL. I want to win every race I'm in, but this one will mean a little bit more to whoever wins it."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): ): "I would have liked to have been on the pole but the Team 7-Eleven car ran well. We just had a little too much understeer. I do like the way it feels for the race and I think we'll have a strong run tomorrow. The best way to win championships is to win races, so that's what we're trying to do."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I'm a bit disappointed in my qualifying run, but I think the ArcaEx car will be a decent race car. I just had too much understeer. My teammates had that too, and we just didn't make quite enough of a change to get the perfect car. We're pretty good in race trim and I'll try to get the ArcaEx car up front and we'll see what happens. It's so tight here at Nazareth and anything can happen."
DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/ Toyota/Firestone): "It's always nice to qualify in the top five, and it certainly bodes well for the race. I'm happy with my qualifying run, especially since we didn't get to do a second run on new tires in this morning practice like most everyone else. We did take a bit of a guess estimate as a result, but that ended up working out pretty well. The test we ran for Toyota here not too long ago definitely paid off for us. I really like our race setup for the No.10 Toyota/Panoz G Force. The Target team has given me another really good race car, and we've already done a couple of full tank runs. We'll just tweak it a bit more and work on breaking into the top three this weekend."
BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We had a little understeer in the car, and I didn't have a very good practice session this morning, but this is the quickest we've run all weekend. I've always enjoyed Nazareth, and I enjoy coming here. I know I've got a good car for the race."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "To be honest, this has never been one of my better tracks. Every time I come here, we get better and better. I just had a bit too much understeer, which didn't help, but it wasn't a bad run. The team has done a very good job, though, and this is a place I am getting more and more comfortable with. We've got a very well-balanced and consistent car for the race."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The Conseco car was good handling-wise. On the second lap, though, it jumped from fifth (gear) to fourth gear in Turn 4, so that slowed us down. Overall, though, I'm happy with how the weekend is going."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/ Honda/Firestone): "I think we left something out on the track today. The car felt very good, and the engine was strong. I think I didn't get the most out of the car in qualifying. Maybe it's because I'm new to this track, but I really like this place. It's like a road course for me. I don't think we took advantage of everything we had today, but for the race, I'm very excited. The car is very good in race settings. I would have liked to have qualified better, but that didn't happen today, so we have to work towards the race. Honda will help us for the race too. That will be important for Sunday. This track is so much different than anything on the IndyCar (Series) circuit. It is a road course with left-hand turns. I need to learn a little more about the track and trust my car. I didn't do that in qualifying, but I feel good about the car for the race."
BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer/Argent Panoz G Force/ Honda/Firestone): "Last week was disappointing for us, but we still have the same determination as before. We shouldn't try harder this weekend because that can get you in trouble sometimes. The car wasn't as good as we wanted today, but I feel confident about the race setup. I feel that our car is very consistent. Maybe not the fastest car outright, but we should be good in race trim. Traffic is always a problem here, and we can use it to our advantage too. With downshifts and braking, it is a lot different than the other tracks and setups become very important. The Honda has been the strongest motor this year, but here, you need a combination of everything to win. It is always nice to have the big Honda power behind you." (About 100th IRL race): "The IRL has been very good to me. After coming up through the small ranks, the IRL let me get to the top of the open-wheel sport. And teams like Rahal Letterman have given me a car that is capable of winning races. That's all I have ever asked for in this series."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "Our qualifying run is an improvement on where we started the weekend. The car is much better than it was on Friday, but we still have some work to do. After last weekend's race in Pikes Peak and the struggles we've had all season long, one of the things I need to work on most is getting my confidence back in the car. I suppose that's part of the reason we're having trouble right now. We've been working on improving the rear stability of the car all season long and we have made some gains year but there's still more to do. The goal now is to get back some of that confidence back in the car and get back up at the front where we know we should be."
ED CARPENTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We didn't qualify the No. 52 car today, so we'll start from the back of the grid and really have to work our way through the field during the race. I struggled yesterday during practice, but this morning's session was better, and we made a lot of improvements, so I thought I was going to be good for qualifying. Unfortunately, I hit the wall on my last qualifying (simulation) in practice, but we still have one more on-track session to prepare, and I'm sure we'll be ready for tomorrow's race."